There will never be another Moose, but Ferguson looks to take up the mantle.
Back in the 90s, the #48 was worn by one of the greatest fullbacks in NFL history. Daryl Johnston was the lead blocker for the league’s all-time leading rusher. Moose did the dirty work to make the players around him better and push Dallas’ offense to legendary heights.
While Jake Ferguson will be playing tight end for the 2022 Cowboys, the goal of being as valuable as Johnston to his team is a worthy one. And despite almost a 30-year gap from Moose’s playing days, the significance of the number isn’t lost on the rookie.
Back in May, Dallas’ newest TE spoke about wearing Johnston’s number and even a warning he received from his family.
“He [Ferguson’s grandfather] actually texted me and was like, ‘You better not be throwing shade on 48.”
“Moose and 48… Some guys are like, ‘Oh, he’s (wearing) 48.’ I’m like, ‘You guys don’t know who wore 48.’”
It remains to be seen if the Cowboys will carry a true fullback on the 2022 roster. They do have some candidates in Ryan Nall and Nick Ralston who have reasonable shots at making the team. But in the past, we have seen where Dallas has instead used their tight ends as lead blockers out of the backfield.
The rookie is hungry to learn.
During the break between mandatory minicamp and the start of training camp, Smith has been working overtime.
“I’m trying to get as much info as I can,” Smith told the Dallas Morning News.
Additionally, Smith has a huge asset at his disposal by getting the chance to learn from Cowboys All-Pro right guard Zack Martin and Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. Smith doesn’t seem to be wasting this opportunity, either.
“Keeping everything in sync and coordinated is huge for me. Zack really helped me with that a lot. I’ll be focused with my eyes. And with Tyron, I was like, ‘How do you not underset or overset?’ He said, ‘Just get to your spot as fast as possible … and use your hands in conjunction with that,” says Smith. “Watching them, watching their tape, how they execute it has been really good for me. I’m in with them every day, so I’m always asking questions.”
With his mentality to constantly learn and a helpful change of position, there’s every reason to believe Smith - who has been working overtime to form himself into a young star - can get there quickly enough to silence the critics.
Where have the Cowboys failed Prescott?
3. A new outside wide receiver
Amari Cooper is likely overpaid but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver on the outside. Shipping him to the Browns in exchange for limited draft capital does weaken one of Dallas’ biggest strengths.
The good news is that the cupboard isn’t bare. CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup both return and can be counted on to pick up some of the slack created by Cooper’s departure. Newly acquired James Washington will also need to be productive right away.
The question looming for the Cowboys is whether or not they have the talent required to win on the outside. Gallup can stretch the field vertically but he’s more of a good No. 2 rather than a top-notch No. 1. That heaps pressure onto Lamb to successfully transition his game from a dangerous slot guy to a classic outside guy to help this offense hum.
A few years ago, Elliott was arguably the best back in the league. Now top 10 is in question.
Ezekiel Elliott does not make ESPN’s top 10 running back rankings for 2022
Elliott was deemed an “honorable mention” after earning a No. 7 spot in 2021 and a No. 3 spot in 2020. Here are the top 10:
Derrick Henry, Titans
Jonathan Taylor, Colts
Nick Chubb, Browns
Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Alvin Kamara, Saints
Joe Mixon, Bengals
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Najee Harris, Steelers
Aaron Jones, Packers
Javonte Williams, Broncos
So, is Elliott a top 10 running back? Probably not anymore, sadly. The 26-year-old led the league in rushing yards per game in his first three years. Those numbers have dropped every year with the lowest being just 58.9 yards per game last season. Yes, he was injured last year. But even before his partial PCL tear, he still didn’t look his best self.
Plus, he also has Tony Pollard trying to earn more playing time behind him. Having fewer snaps could help his durability, but it certainly won’t help Elliott’s overall production.
The reality of him being worthy of being paid as one of the league’s best backs in 2022 is unlikely. We’d love for him to prove us wrong, though.
An anonymous GM from the ESPN article put it best: “He’s still a good player, but that burst he once had just doesn’t seem to be there.”
Dallas is relying on the chips falling their way next season. Here are five examples.
Micah Parsons transcends expectations
The linebacker had a fantastic rookie season. Not only did Parsons lead the Cowboys in sacks and tackles for a loss, he did so while lining up at several different positions throughout the year. The impact of Parsons in his first season cannot be overstated, he led a turnaround from a defense that was embarrassed a year earlier.
After being an All Pro as a rookie, the potential is there for Parsons to be even better in his sophomore season. Parsons is already one of the NFL’s best defensive players and if he makes that leap as many second-year players do, he has the ability to carry the Dallas defense.
Parsons is preparing for another big year and has set a lofty goal of becoming the single-season sack leader, besting the current record of 22.5 sacks. That might be tall order considering Parsons doesn’t line up exclusively as a pass rusher, but it would be foolish to doubt him.
Although Parsons doesn’t need the gaudy sack total to takeover the Cowboys’ defense, it could transform them into one of the best units in the league. If Parsons backs up his rookie season with another spectacular campaign in 2022, he has the ability take the Cowboys farther than they’ve been since the turn of the century.
He can be that good.
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